Keeley Bill Would Make Sexual Harassment an Unlawful Employment Practice

DOVER – Inspired by employees across the country raising their voices in the #MeToo movement, legislation filed by Rep. Helene Keeley would ensure that all workplaces across Delaware are safe and free from sexual harassment.

House Bill 360 would dually address sexual harassment by improving training for supervisors and better protect workers. The bill would specifically make sexual harassment a discriminatory, unlawful employment practice and would cover a wide-range of employees, including unpaid interns, contracted workers, state of Delaware workers and all private sector employees.

“As we have seen across the country - no one is immune to sexual harassment. It festers in every employment subsector, from healthcare to hospitality, and negatively impacts workers who are just trying to make a living for their families,” said Rep. Keeley.

“Harassment has been hidden and commonplace for far too long, but there is a major culture shift underway. We need to continue on that momentum with this legislation. Education is key to preventing and identifying harassment, and helping to alert people of their options to raise concerns.”

Under the legislation, businesses with more than 50 employees would need to provide sexual harassment training to their supervisory employees within six months after they assume their role and have them undergo training every two years. The supervisor training would be performed by experts in harassment prevention, and include guidance on sexual harassment prevention as well as remedies available to victims.

“For far too long, sexual harassment has been treated as a fact of life,” said Senate prime sponsor Sen. Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown. “The reality is that harassment isn’t just degrading, insulting, and loutish — it also feeds a dangerous and oppressive culture that objectifies people, cheapens our standards of behavior, and can lead to more severe and threatening behavior. Society is finally coming to understand just how common this problem is, and how taboo it ought to be in the workplace and elsewhere. It’s time for our laws to reflect that evolution.”

The Department of Labor would create an information sheet on sexual harassment that would include specific definitions and information on legal remedies and complaint processes available through the department that would be made available to employers for employee distribution. The information would also be made available online.

HB 360 has been assigned to the House Labor Committee.